TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local Marine is bringing a pressing issue into the national spotlight.
Rachel Fredericks, a Troy native, took on a presidential candidate’s incorrect fact check of veteran suicide.
“I stood up and asked the question, and I wasn’t afraid,” she said.
Fredericks spoke up for all veterans as millions were watching NBC’s Commander-in-Chief forum Wednesday night.
“The question I asked Donald Trump was if he were to be elected president, what would he do to stop 20 veterans a day from killing themselves,” she said.
Her question is now making headlines.
“Headline reads ‘corrects’ because he wasn’t correct,” Fredericks said. “At first he said, ‘Actually its 22 a day,’ and as a lot of people pointed out to me, I immediately shook my head in disapproval.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs updated the number from 22 to 20 in July. Trump was quick to adjust his answer, but Fredericks felt let down by it.
“The VA really is, almost you could say, a corrupt enterprise, so we are going to make it efficient and good,” Trump said during the forum. “And if it’s not good, you’re going out to private hospitals, public hospitals, and doctors.”
Fredericks said Trump played into part of the problem: stigmatizing veterans.
“He also kept saying ‘they’ and ‘them,’ and ‘they need help,’” she said. “When you’re putting veterans in a category like that saying ‘they need help’ and ‘let’s blame the VA,’ ‘let’s blame the access’ and ‘let’s blame the care,’ we’re not doing anything but passing the buck and pointing the finger. We actually need to work together as local communities.”
That’s where Fredericks finds her motivation.
Whether she’s hand-biking for a cause, volunteering with Toys for Tots, or helping Schenectady Super Survivor Safyre Terry, she’s spreading a simple message.
“I just want to remind every veteran out there that we are all fighting together, so don’t give up,” she said.